Quick! Name three things that can be recycled! Chances are you thought of aluminum cans, paper, and maybe plastic. But we’re betting you didn’t think of houses. That’s right—entire houses can be recycled these days! To recycle a house, you’d need to find a willing buyer and arrange transport to their plot of land. Even if you’re not starting from scratch with a home rebuild, the fact that houses are now considered recyclable materials highlights the fact that the modern remodeling project is an opportunity to “go green.”
Here are some great tips for reusing items left over from home renovation, from our friends at Elder Demolition in Portland, Oregon. Let their expertise guide your project. Below is a list of a few remodeling salvage tips to help you reuse as much as possible from your next remodeling adventure.
1. Save and reuse project components whenever possible.
Walking through a big box home improvement store, it’s easy to assume you need to buy new everything for your remodeling project. But nothing could be further from the truth. Some modern demolition contractors recycle portions of projects; they may transform concrete chunks into gravel, for instance. Others demolish projects by hand so that nearly all materials may be re-purposed elsewhere.
Here’s a brief list of some common home materials that can be reused in other remodeling projects:
- Counter tops
- Curtain rods & hanging hardware
- Medicine cabinets
- Hardwood flooring
- Support beams
- Cabinet doors
- Kitchen appliances
This list is by no means exhaustive. During the planning stages of your remodeling project, think long and hard about what you can reuse and what must absolutely be replaced. For instance, while your kitchen counters may be too outdated to save, you might be able to reuse that old sink in your new design. Reusing items in your remodel saves you money while also reduces the amount of trash your remodeling project produces.
2. Donate what you can’t reuse to a local building materials reuse project.
Many localities now offer special recycling resources for homeowners and contractors. For instance, Portland, Oregon is home to The Rebuilding Center as well as the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. These organizations accept donations of previously used home materials. They accept donations of everything from doors and hardware to lighting and windows. If you won’t be reusing those old bathroom cabinets, donate them to a local reuse project. And by the way, these recycling warehouses are great sources for period-specific construction materials. As an example, let’s say you’re revamping the living room in your Craftsman bungalow. A trip to the local home materials donation center could turn up the perfect copper cabinet handles for your remodel.
3. Recycle as much as possible.
The conscientious demolition contractor knows that about 40% the trash in our landfills is made up of construction and demolition debris. Consider, for instance, that the demolition of a 2,500-foot home creates an average of 25 tons of trash. Your remodeling project will also create mountains of refuse—unless you take those extra steps to recycle as much as possible. Through online research, you may be able to find recycling facilities for everything from drywall to concrete. Look for state-by-state listings for each material you wish to recycle. In truth there’s very little in a home that can’t be recycled with a little legwork.
4. Leave hazardous materials to the pros.
Asbestos, fiberglass, lead—these and other home building materials have been found to be hazardous to human health. Before ripping apart any material for recycling, get the skinny on potentially hazardous contents. A contractor can fill you in on what materials should be handled by professionals.
5. Avoid common remodeling problems.
Nothing’s more frustrating that getting halfway through a project and realizing you’ll need to spend fistfuls of money to make your remodeling dream a reality. Save yourself some heartache by avoiding a few common remodeling mistakes. Always bear in mind the economic, environmental and cost savings associated with remodeling salvage as you make your remodeling plans:
- Check for clearance before you select materials. That snazzy new bathroom cabinet won’t be of much use if you can’t open it all the way.
- Budget with the age of your home in mind. Older homes have faulty wiring and outdated piping. Oftentimes, these more expensive construction materials must be replaced as part of a remodel. Don’t forget to include these potential costs when getting bids from contractors.
- Add more storage than you think you’ll need. That way you won’t feel frustrated later when your newly remodeled area isn’t able to hold all your stuff.
With a little forethought and research, you can successfully pull off your remodeling scheme without spending an arm and a leg, and without creating mountains of trash.